What is Metric System?
- The given figure shows the arrangement of the metric units, which are smaller or bigger than the base unit.
- The units to the right of the base unit are smaller than the base unit. As we move to the right, each unit is 10 times smaller or one-tenth of the unit to its left. So, a ‘deci’ means one-tenth of the base unit, ‘centi’ is one-tenth of ‘deci’ or one-hundredth of the base unit and ‘milli’ is one-tenth of ‘centi’ or one-thousandth of the base unit.
- The units to the left of the base unit are bigger than the base unit. As we move to the left, each unit is 10 times greater than the unit to its right. So, a ‘deca’ means ten times of the base unit, ‘hecto’ is ten times of ‘deca’ or hundred times of the base unit and ‘killo’ is ten times of ‘hecto’ or thousand times of the base unit.
Kilo |
Hecto |
Deca |
Base Unit |
Deci |
Centi |
Milli |
1000 |
100 |
10 |
1 |
1/10 |
1/100 |
1/1000 |
Kilometer (km) |
Hectometer (hm) |
Decameter (dam) |
Meter (m) |
Decimeter (dm) |
Centimeter (cm) |
Millimeter (mm) |
1000 |
100 |
10 |
1 |
1/10 |
1/100 |
1/1000 |
Kilogram (kg) |
Hectogram (hg) |
Decagram (dag) |
Gram (g) |
Decigram (dg) |
Centigram (cg) |
Milligram (mg) |
1000 |
100 |
10 |
1 |
1/10 |
1/100 |
1/1000 |
Kiloliter (kl) |
Hectoliter (hl) |
Decaliter (dal) |
Liter (l) |
Deciliter (dl) |
Centiliter (cl) |
Milliliter (ml) |
1000 |
100 |
10 |
1 |
1/10 |
1/100 |
1/1000 |
Metric Conversions: Meters, grams and liters are considered the base units of length, weight and volume, respectively.
Here’s how we can multiply or divide for making metric conversions. To convert a bigger unit to the smaller unit, we move left to write, we multiple by 10. Moving right to left, from smaller unit to bigger, we divide by 10.
Let us look at some examples of converting from one unit to another.
Example 1: Convert 5 km to m.
As 1 km = 1000 m
Therefore, 5 km = 5 × 1000 = 5000 m
Example 2: Convert 250 kg to milligrams.
We know, 1 g = 1000 mg and 1 kg = 1000 g
So, we first convert the kg to g as:
1 kg = 1000 g
Therefore, 250 kg = 250 × 1000 g = 250,000 g
Now, converting g to mg:
1 g = 1000 mg, therefore: 250,000 g = 250,000 × 1000 mg = 250,000,000 mg
Example 3: Convert 250 ml to liters.
1 liter = 1000 ml
Therefore, 450 ml = 450 ÷ 1000 = 0.45 liter
The US Standard Units or the Customary System uses customary units.
This system measures:
- Length or distance in inches, feet, yards, and miles.
- Capacity or volume in fluid ounces, cups, pints, quarts or gallons.
- Weight or mass in ounces, pounds and tons.